He has held the position of Director of Athletics at four major NCAA Division I Universities over a twenty-one year period and is the only athletics administrator to have worked as an AD in four of the original six BCS Conferences. Turner began his 32 year career in collegiate sports administration at the University of Virginia (1976-1987). He served as Director of Athletics at the University of Connecticut (1987-90); NC State University (1990-96); Vanderbilt University (1996-2003), and the University of Washington (2004-2008).
He is most noted for his work on NCAA Academic reform while at Vanderbilt University. Through his determined leadership, the concept of applying competitive rewards and penalties to the academic performance of student-athletes became a reality in 2005 when the NCAA membership voted to adopt the principle. Turner’s push for academic policy changes first began in 1998 gaining the support of the Southeastern Conference membership before being adopted by the NCAA. In 2002, he was appointed as Chair of the NCAA Working Group on Academic Incentives and Disincentives which developed and recommended the fundamental principles that led to the creation of an Academic Progress Rate used today by the NCAA as the metric for measuring academic performance.
Prior to Vanderbilt, Turner was Director of Athletics at the University of Connecticut (1987-90) and North Carolina State University (1990-1996). At each stop, his teams were highly successful, winning numerous conference championships and making dozens of post season appearances, including five football bowl appearances while at NC State. On two occasions, his teams at the University of Washington (2004-2008) won national championships.
In his last year at Vanderbilt (2003), Commodore teams achieved their highest national ranking ever (28) in the Director’s Cup all-sports rankings, with NCAA tournament appearances by 10 of Vandy’s 15 sports teams. During his tenure, Vanderbilt’s football team also twice earned the American Football Coaches Association Academic Achievement Award for the highest graduation rate among all Division 1A (FBS) football programs.
Always a proponent of student-athlete wellbeing, Turner established NC State’s first Student-athlete LifeSkills Program (ImPACK), which was among the first programs nationally to be recognized by the Division 1A Athletics Directors’ Association as a “Program of Excellence”. Student-athlete success was clearly evident at each stop as student-athlete graduation rates, grade point averages, and academic honors increased to record highs.
Throughout his career, Turner has served on numerous professional boards and committees including the NCAA Academic and Eligibility Cabinet, the SEC Executive Committee, the Board of Directors of the Rose Bowl, and the NCAA Golf Committee (chair). He has also served his communities as a board member of the Middle Tennessee YMCA, the Greater Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, and both the Nashville and Seattle Sports Commissions.
Turner is a past President of the Division 1A Athletics Directors’ Association and a member of the Association’s Board of Directors. He is also the author of the Association’s “Code of Ethics” and “Statement of Core Values” for Division 1A Directors which are foundational documents for the profession. In 2012, he was named the recipient of the Homer Rice Award, presented by the Association to a former athletics director with a distinguished career, who has made a significant impact on the profession and intercollegiate athletics.
In 2010, after working for two years with Winston-Salem, NC based International Sports Properties (now IMG College) to establish a collegiate consulting and executive search practice, Turner formed his own company, Collegiate Sports Associates, to provide similar services to a broader range of collegiate sports clients. As President of CSA, he personally directs all services provided by his company. In three short years, CSA has developed an extensive client base that includes over forty NCAA Division I schools and conferences.
A frequent presenter and speaker on intercollegiate athletics issues, he is often consulted by thought leaders in the industry such as the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. He also continues to teach a course in Human Resources in Athletics in the Intercollegiate Athletics Leadership Graduate Program at the University of Washington and is a regular presenter and faculty member at the Division IA Athletic Director’s Institute.
Turner received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1973. In 1976, he earned his M.ED in Sports Administration from Ohio University where he was honored with the Ohio University Graduate School’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1993.
Turner currently resides in West End, NC with his wife, Sara. The Turner’s have four adult children and two granddaughters.
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